Series: Books by the Bay #8
Published by Berkley Books on May 2nd 2017
Genres: Cozy, Mystery
Barnes & Noble
From the New York Times bestselling author of Writing All Wrongs, it's a rotten state of affairs in Oyster Bay, and the Bayside Book Writers are out to end a nasty plot... Restaurant owner and aspiring novelist Olivia Limoges is happily enjoying her new marriage. Sadly, the same doesn't hold true for Laurel, a fellow Bayside Book Writer. While struggling with a demanding job, twin boys, and a terminally ill mother-in-law, Laurel learns that her perfect marriage is mostly fictional. When she catches her husband fooling around with his mother's hospice nurse, she issues impassioned threats that will later come back to haunt her.
After the nurse meets a deadly denouement, Chief Rawlings is forced to take Laurel into custody. While Olivia protests the arrest, the rest of the Bayside Book Writers become a group divided, with Rawlings and Harris on one side and Olivia and Millay on the other. Now the women must race against the clock to prove that Laurel's not the sort for murder before her story ends in tragedy...
This is the final entry in the Books on the Bay series by Ellery Adams, and to put it mildly, it’s a fairly controversial entry. I understand the controversy; it’s mainly being called out by people who care a lot more about genre rules than I do, but I don’t really agree with it. I’m not a big fan of telling authors how they should or shouldn’t write their books, and if Ellery Adams wants to buck cozy mystery rules with her books, then so be it. The genre could use a little shaking up.
So, how was this book, besides the controversial ending? Hm. It was fine. It was exactly what I’ve come to expect from this series. All of our favorite characters made an appearance, and it was good to visit with them. I’ve enjoyed watching Olivia, especially, grow from an insufferable, friendless shrew to a slightly warmer insufferable shrew with several good friends and a husband who clearly adores her but isn’t afraid to call her out on her shit.
The mystery wasn’t all that great, but I don’t read this series, or any cozy series really, for the mystery. I read them because I enjoy visiting with the characters and seeing how they’re doing. Olivia overhears a conversation that makes her think Laurel’s husband might be having an affair with his mother’s hospice nurse, which sets off a chain of events that ended up involving not just an affair, but a ring of jewel thieves, murder, and multiple perpetrators. Pretty standard cozy mystery fare.
Since Laurel is the spurned wife, and the murder victim is her husband’s mistress, she quickly becomes the main, and seemingly only, suspect in this murder. I didn’t really buy the division this caused in the writer’s group. Of course they can understand how Laurel would be a suspect in the murder, but for some of them to actually doubt her innocence didn’t ring true; it struck me as a way to add some extra drama to the book, and I didn’t think it needed it.
Karen White’s narration was consistent. She still has a tendency to make Olivia and her friends sound like completely pompous jerks, but at this point I’m just used to it. (She does this thing in the dialogue where everyone draws out their words and emphasizes every word equally. “Well, IIIII don’t think there’s aaaannnyyy reason for uuus to think that Laaaaurreel would murder someone” It just sounds really strange and they all sound like jerks)
If you’ve been reading this series all along, read this one. You may not love the ending, but you’re certainly not alone in that opinion. I’ll put this behind a spoiler tag; you can decide to read it or not. View Spoiler »As the mystery is winding down, Olivia’s husband Rawlings is shot and killed by one of the bad guys. « Hide Spoiler If you’re worried about it, don’t read the final few chapters, I guess? I wouldn’t recommend that method, but I guess it’s an option. Otherwise, read it. Killer Characters is a well-done ending to a fun series and group of characters I’m going to miss checking in with.
Challenges – unfortunately this doesn’t count toward my audiobook challenge because I actually listened in 2017.